Gelsemium Sempervirens - Gelsemium
Scientific Name(S): Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) Ait. Synonymous with G. nitidum Michx. and Bignonia sempervirens L. Family: Loganiaceaea or Spigeliaceae. Not to be confused with true jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum L.)
Common Name(S): Gelsemium, yellow or Carolina jasmine, wild, yellow or Carolina jessamine, woodbine, evening trumpet flower
Gelsemium sempervirens is also known as yellow jasmine, false jasmine, wild woodbine, and Carolina jasmine. It is a woody, climbing vine with dark leaves and groups of yellow, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in early spring. The flowers are very fragrant. It is native to the coastal areas extending from Virginia to Florida, and in Mexico, and is the state flower of South Carolina.
History: Gelsemium has been used as an ingredient in some analgesic and homeopathic products, but its use has been limited due to its toxicity. At the turn of the century, it was a popular ingredient in asthma and respiratory remedies. Related species have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat neuralgia and various painful conditions. It is the state flower of South Carolina.
Uses of Gelsemium
Gelsemium has been traditionally used to treat pain and respiratory ailments.
Homeopathic remedies incorporating gelsemium have specific indications. As with other homeopathic treatments, they contain infinitesimal amounts of the active ingredient, so that toxicity is highly unlikely. Some of the recommendations for the use of homeopathic gelsemium include migraine headache, anxiety, chemotherapy support, dental support, influenza, nausea, and recovery from surgery.
Side Effects of Gelsemium
All parts of the gelsemium are toxic and can cause death when ingested.
Toxicology: All parts of the plant contain toxic alkaloids that can cause paralysis and death, and should never be ingested. Gelsemium alkaloids are highly toxic. Ingestion of as little as 4 ml of a fluid extract has been reported to be fatal. Toxic symptoms include giddiness, weakness, ptosis, dilated pupils and respiratory depression. Gelsemicine is more toxic than gelsemine.
Toxicity has been reported in animals that have grazed on gelsemium, and bees that pollinate the plant have been poisoned. Honey derived from the plant nectar has been reported to be toxic.
Summary: Gelsemium is a beautiful yet highly toxic plant. Although it has been used in traditional medicine, its narrow safety margin limits its use. Today, the plant is widely cultivated for its ornamental flowers.
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